Origin, history, and progression of the “opium poppy

Origin of opium

Opium is a latex juice extracted from opium poppy plant, after scoring poppy pod.

Opium cultivation began in Sumerian in 5000 BC. In Pharaonic Egypt (Tebas), Opium and other substances calmed children cries and intestinal pains coming from worms. In Theophrasto (300 B.C) opium was used as an anti convulsivant, narcotic and purge. During civilization in Rome Opium was combined with alcohol and poets used it in their texts (Poce et al., 2002).

History of opium

Opium history dates back to Neolithic and ancient times. It was used in ritual purposes and anesthesia. Ancient Egypt population used opium for relieving pain while Indians and Romans used it in surgical procedures. Medical texts written in times of Dioscorides, Avicenna, and Galen indicate that opium was an analgesic for stopping pain in medical procedures. Opium and its derivatives such as morphine, opiods, and synthetic opiates were in use during American civil war and are still in use today for medical purposes (Poce et al., 2002).

Progression of opium use

In 15th century, opium was used in recreational works since it was rare and expensive. Opium became widely available in 17th century when it was combined with tobacco and smoked in China. Opium addiction was realized at that time. British government encouraged use of opium to excel in trade with china. Moreover, it facilitated opium cultivation and spread of poppy plant in India. British transported opium from India to China openly. The British under East India Company governed, supervised, and oversaw production and shipping of Opium for years. Around 1839 to 1858 there were opium wars by Chinese emperor who attempted to stop transport of opium (Leslie, 2002). Most men became consumers of opium. In the late 19th century, opium was used for recreation and international opium commission regulated opium use and production. Opium was later purified into heroin and morphine, which would be injected into the body for recreation and treatment purposes. In the 20th century, opium use was restricted in many countries, which led to modern production of opium and illicit uses in the streets. Today Afghanistan is the main producer of opium. The worldwide production of opium is 7 metric tons per year.

Opium use today

Opium produces narcotics such as morphine, thebaine, noscapine, codeine, and papaverine. There are more than fifty alkaloids today. Opium is the source of the first medicinal compound to be isolated in its pure form. German pharmacist Friederich Sertuner did its isolation in 1804 who dubbed morphium alkaloid after Morpheus Greek dream god due to its ability to induce sleep. Morphine is effective in relieving pain due to its large amount of alkaloid. It acts directly to the central nervous system to relieve agonizing pain quickly (Opium, 2016).

Opium produces morphine alkaloid used in manufacturing heroin. Heroin is highly addictive and exhibits anxiolytic, euphoric and analgesic properties of the central nervous system. Heroin is injected or ingested orally and binds to opioid receptors in the brain. Users stay awake but drowsy since the functioning of their minds is clouded as central nervous system is depressed. In addition, users experience respiratory problems, constrictions of pupils and nausea (Opium, 2016). They get into a coma and end up dying. Opium plant is important in its yielding of sticky latex that alters the mind. Latex is formed into large balls. Laudanum is a bitter extract of opium, which is reddish brown in color and used as an addictive agent, cough suppressant and pain reliever.





Brown, J. (2004). The Opium Wars. Military History,  21(1), 34-42.

Leslie, M. (2002).The Wars Of the Poppies. History Today, 52 (5), 42-50.

Opium. (2016).History Of Opium. Opium. Retrieved From Www.Opium.Org/History-Of-            Opium.Html

Poce,F.A.,Fernandez,E.M.,Espoinos,C.M.,Perez,A.,Torres,L.M.(2002).History Of Opium.           International Congress Series, 1242, 19-21.

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